Saturday, May 31, 2014

I Never Thought It Would Happen

One of the things we loved when we moved into our neighborhood was that there were so many young families with kids roughly the same ages – about 40 of them. It was so sweet and fun and exciting to see them go through all the different stages of life…until now. They are teenagers. AND, they are all starting to drive. All at once. One by one, I see one teen after another behind the wheel, nervous parent trying to act calm riding shotgun. I’m terrified, not only of being on the streets with them as either a pedestrian or a driver. It’s that mine will be driving soon, too. I firmly believe anyone who still sleeps in your bed (on occasion) or asks you for money (not on occasion) shouldn’t be allowed behind the wheel of a car…but wait, that describes too many spouses I know, so forget that point. But regardless, I think the thing which instills the greatest fear is that soon, too soon, my teenager will be riffling my purse for my extra pair of car keys and expecting me not to scream as she reverses my already dented Honda into the back of my husband’s car. Or even worse, all of her blooming teenage energy will be mobile. There will be little stopping her from taking to the streets except me and my ability to say no repeatedly…to someone who doesn’t listen to me and has a high tolerance for punishment. The first road trip I took after learning how to drive was to follow my parents on the highway in our second car as we drove up the coast to Cape Code. It was bumper to bumper traffic, and they call it that for a reason. That’s exactly what I did – bumped my bumper into the back of my parents’ car. We pulled over to the side, my dad got out of the car, teeth clenched, and inspected the rear of his vehicle and the front of mine. I climbed sheepishly out of the other car, tears already welling up, ready to offer any earthly punishment to keep from being killed. It wasn’t bad. In fact, I don’t think any dent or scratches were noticeable. Still, my father was steaming. All he could manage to say was “Get back in the car.” I can imagine all he wanted to say, the rant about how many hours he’d spent painfully explaining to me about parallel parking, turning into a spin, and staying at least one car distance away from the vehicle in front of you. ONE CAR DISTANCE AWAY. Only to have my first fender bender be with him! When my husband and I were new parents, ten or eleven years ago, the parents used to joke with each other at neighborhood parties about how one day all of these cute little kids would be teenagers learning to drive. And now it has happened. It’s like the zombie apocalypse. You never really think it will, until it does. And then it’s too late because some undead creature is chewing on your foot. Well, that’s exactly what has happened on our block. Honestly, I’m not sure which is worse – zombies or teenagers with cars.